New Delhi: Former Supreme Court judge Justice V. Gopala Gowda has described the Citizenship Amendment Act as unconstitutional saying that it distinguishes between persons on the basis of religion.
Referring to the apex court’s 1994 judgment in S.R. Bommai‘s case, Justice Gowda emphasised that the parliament or a state legislature cannot enact a law on the basis of religion.
He was speaking at the launch of a book, Citizenship, Rights and Constitutional Limitations, authored by senior advocate K.S. Chauhan. The event was also attended by former Vice President of India Hamid Ansari.
During his speech, the former SC judge also expressed his apprehensions about the National Register of Citizens (NRC) exercise in Assam, saying that many people who are citizens are unable to prove their citizenship because they lack the certificates to do so.
He said that while on a visit to Assam as the chairman of a fact-finding committee he found there are “lakhs and lakhs of people” who migrated to the state decades ago but cannot prove their citizenship today.
“In a country where more than 50% of the population is illiterate and doesn’t maintain records, the government is asking to prove their citizenship, that too after several decades,” he said. The final NRC list stripped at least 1.9 million people in Assam of their citizenship.
“After 70 years of Republic India, you amend the law and say that the persons of other countries, who have been harassed and coming and residing here, will be recognised as citizens, while to the persons of Indian origin, who are in Sri Lanka etc, who are here, no citizenship right will be given,” Justice Gowda said.
He urged that whether it is the farmers or women or any other section, whether in Assam, Northeastern India or other parts of the country, irrespective of the religion, if the people who are being required to prove their citizenship are rendered stateless, it will result in a blatant violation of their human rights.